Search for the Spirit / All that is Solid Melts into Air
In 2006 Bart De Baere [Director of the Antwerp Museum of Contemporary Art MuHKA] was asked to assist in setting out the outlines and concept of the urban cultural festival City visions in Mechelen. Subsequently five curators of the MuHKA [including Bart De Baere himself] were deployed to further work out the objectives of the festival and to mould it into a concrete project.
All That Is Solid Melts Into Air is a contemporary art exhibition in the context of the cultural festival City visions in Mechelen, conceived by MuHKA. The red thread running through the project is the paradox contained in the notions on materialistic spirituality and spiritual materialism. In that sense it links up with the reason for City visions, the archbishopric’s anniversary. For the latter implies a comparable contrast: the function of archbishop comprised the duality of immaterial spirituality and material pragmatism. It concerned a political diplomat who held the highest clerical office.
In five separate chapters the exhibition creators at the MuHKA explore the complex set of problems around the spiritual status that contemporary art has acquired or might acquire in our ‘post-secular’ era. For in the globalised, demystified post-Enlightenment world, people are generally at a loss as regards dealing with religious impulses and their all too human longing for added value and transcendence, and therefore focus more and more on the arts. In the ambience of art – of artistry and the work of art, artistic practice and activity – we are looking for an experience that seems to have become impossible or at least extremely problematic because of the demystification of the world. In this sense the museum too has been given the label of church or place for prayer and contemplation of the pagan present.
“The true artist helps the World by revealing mystic truths” was the opinion of Bruce Nauman – in jest or not, it does not even matter – in the late 1960s, when all the certainties actually seemed to evaporate once again. We might update this audacious statement by suggesting that the true artist is lending the world a helping hand by asking the Great Questions again and again, without hesitation or fear – and by providing many small answers.
The Search for the Spirit
Company Paintings, Yael Davids, Luca Frei, General Idea, Eileen Gray, Image Bank, Luis Jacob and Johanna Natalie Wintsch
Curator: Grant Watson (assisted by Pádraic E. Moore)
Al and Al, Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács, Annie Cattrell, Charles Darwin, Edith Dekyndt, Jacobus Johannes de Raedt, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Lea Lagasse, Jürg Lehni & Alex Rich, Gordon Matta-Clark, Jonathan Monk, Joseph Plateau, Quay Brothers, Dominique Somers, Sherridan Stymest, Günther Uecker and Arnold Floris van Langren
Curator: Edwin Carels in cooperation with Al and Al
Marina Abramovic, Vito Acconci, Ron Athey, Charles Atlas, Franko B, Philip Brophy, Chris Burden, Hans Danuser, Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo, Danny Devos, Desiree Dolron, Kirsten Geisler, Rachel Goh, Micha Klein, Yves Klein, Ana Mendieta, Ingrid Mwangi, Erwin Olaf, Orlan, L.A. Raeven, Stelarc, Frank Theys and Inez Van Lamsweerde
Curator: Liliane Dewachter
Marcel Broodthaers, Nina Canell & Robin Watkins, Thierry Decordier, Raoul De Keyser, Joseph Delappe, Q. Lê Dinh & Ha Truc Phu Nam & Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Jimmie Durham, Isa Genzken, N.S. Harsha, Hiwa K., Valentine Kempynck, Suchan Kinoshita and Marcel Hiller, Vladimir Kokolia, Ivan Kožarić, Mangelos, Christophe Terlinden, Moniek Toebosch, Joëlle Tuerlinckx and Johannes Vogl
Curator: Bart De Baere
Leonor Antunes, Eva Berendes, Constantin Brancusi, Andre Cadere, Martin Creed, Jos De Gruyter & Harald Thys, Thea Djordjadze, Francesco Gennari, Thomas Houseago, Gabriel Kuri, Camilla Low, Goshka Macuga, Mark Manders, Valérie Mannaerts, Judy Radul, Steven Shearer and Mark Soo & Elizabeth Zvonar
Curator: Dieter Roelstraete